Backburn fires set to cut off fuel from an advancing wildfire near Ashcroft, 2017. The B.C. Wildfire Service is stepping up prescribed burns to keep fires from growing out of control. (Black Press files)

June rain will tell if B.C. is in for another hot wildfire season

Public safety minister says province’s crews are ready to go

B.C.’s first wildfire evacuation of the year isn’t a signal of another hot summer for fires in the province, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says.

The Lejac fire near Fraser Lake, west of Prince George and in between the vast areas of Omineca and Tweedsmuir Provincial Parks, is the first major fire of the 2019 season, after two record-setting years for area burned in the province. The Lejac fire had its evacuation order downgraded to an alert over the weekend and was 70 per cent contained by Monday.

READ MORE: Evacuation order lifted for Fraser Lake fire

READ MORE: Wildfire near Kamloops still out of control

It’s not an unusual start or a harbinger of things to come, Farnworth said Monday.

“In fact it’s just slightly above average for a normal year,” he said. “The other key issue will depend on what we have in terms of rainfall precipitation in June. That is the bigger predictor of where the fire season is going.”

The B.C. Wildfire Service’s early summer outlook notes that a dry March was eased by normal April weather, and June is traditionally a wetter month. Lack of rain in May and June set up conditions for record fire damage in 2017 and 2018.

B.C. Wildfire Service crews are training for the season, many of them experienced people back for another year of protecting communities and the links that connect them.

“We’ve been out on reconnaissance flights, to find those fires that have been burning deep underground and smouldering over the winter, so we can get an early start on them if there are hotspots identified,” Farnworth said.

The province has a multi-media awareness campaign underway to remind people to be safe with any combustible materials.

“There are significant penalties in place for people who are found to have started fires, up to $1 million,” Farnworth said. “People need to be aware that careless activity, whether it’s a campfire or a cigarette butt out the window, can cause extraordinary damage. Two years ago, at least half the fires were human caused.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Stem cell donor with rare genetic makeup needed to save Saanich man after cancer returns

Jeremy Chow is half Canton Chinese, half British and needs a donor with a similar ethnic background

Victoria Humane Society needs volunteers after flood of puppies and kittens

Pregnant cats, dogs and their litters are in need of foster care

Tomato planting controversy inspires Victoria author’s book on transforming cities

Woman behind the Collinson street mural pens third book

New UVic student housing project before Saanich council tonight

Two new buildings would add almost 700 new student housing spaces

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Most Read